Don’t Finish Client Projects.

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As some of my readers have kindly pointed out over the years, I suck at proofreading. I can go over an article I’ve written with a fine tooth comb and be sure — absolutely certain — that there are no mistakes, only to discover later on that I spelled spelt wrong.

So I don’t proofread anymore. Instead, I send my stuff to my assistant who can spot a typo from a decameter away.

By doing that, I’m focusing on where I add the most value: writing. And steering clear of where I don’t add value: proofreading.

And this strategy has worked especially well for me with client projects, too.

Like most professional service providers, I used to make the mistake of thinking that a project was just this one “thing” I had to do for a client and that only I could do that one thing. No one else.

However, with a few exceptions, a client project isn’t just one thing. It’s many things; a series of activities. And you don’t necessarily have to be involved in them all — just the important ones where your hands-on attention matters most.

Here’s an example of what I mean:

Say you’re a online media writer and consultant. If you were to break down a typical project — a blog ghostwriting project, for example — into a series of steps, it might look something like this:

1. Decide on a blog post topic.

2. Do the research.

3. Write the blog post.

4. Source a royalty-free artwork image to go with the post.

5. Submit the piece to the client for her review.

6. Make requested revisions, if any.

7. Proofread the post to ensure it’s error-free.

8. Upload the post to the client’s blog.

9. Create a series of social media updates about the post.

So there are nine distinct steps in the process of completing that project.

Now really, do you have to handle all these steps personally?

Your client isn’t paying you top dollar for your proofreading expertise or ability to search a database for artwork images, is she?

Although she needs the whole project done, what your client wants most from you is your talent for crafting a fantastic blog and getting it out to her target audience.

If you think of the project that way, you could just do steps 1, 3 and 9 — the steps where you add the most value — and then hire someone else to handle the other steps.

If you did that, projects would get done faster and you’d probably earn a lot more money. My guess is that you’d have a lot more fun too because you’re focusing on those aspects of a project you enjoy most.

So take a look at the projects you typically handle for your clients. Are there steps in the project completion process that you’re not good at or hate to do? If so, consider getting someone else to do it.

Or to put it another way, stick to your knitting. And get someone else to buy the wool!

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